Jazz’s Walker Kessler Seeing Huge Regression In Year 2

Walker Kessler, Utah Jazz, NBA
NBA Analysis Network

At this time last year, the Utah Jazz were the biggest surprise in the NBA. They were exceeding all expectations that were placed on them as many people were under the assumption they would be tanking to improve their draft stock.

The hot start they got off to took them out of the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes, but the future of the Jazz is still very bright. They are overflowing with young, high-upside players and draft capital, putting them in a position to swing a big trade should the time come.

One of the players who exceeded expectations and played well for the team last season was center Walker Kessler. The No. 22 overall pick had a nightly impact last season, scoring 9.2 points with 8.4 rebounds per game with 2.3 blocks.

His presence defensively was menacing, as he was impacting several more shots per game. That impact has carried over into Year 2, as Walker is averaging 8.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game.

NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: Walker Kessler & Utah Jazz Updates

His scoring average has remained similar at 9.1, but he is seeing a major regression in his efficiency. Despite averaging nearly two more shots per game this season than last, Kessler hasn’t seen an increase in his scoring average because he currently has the biggest shooting drop-off from last season to this one in the NBA.

Last season, Kessler had 414 shot attempts and converted at an elite 72 percent. His effective field goal percentage was 72.1 percent, being dragged down only by his poor 51.6 percent from the foul line.

This season, Kessler has upped his free throw percentage a little bit to 58.8 percent. But, his overall shooting numbers have plummeted, as he is making only 54.3 percent overall with an effective field goal percentage of 55.6 percent.

That 16.5 percent drop in eFG percentage is currently the largest drop-off in the NBA. Jonathan Kuminga of the Golden State Warriors has the second biggest one at 11.9 percent. John Schuhmann offered up an explanation of what has changed this season.

NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: Walker Kessler & Utah Jazz Updates

“For Walker Kessler, one of three second-year players on this list, shooting some 3s from the corners (where he’s 2-for-9) hasn’t worked out. But he also hasn’t finished nearly as well in the paint (59%) as he did as a rookie (73%),” wrote Schuhmann.

That drop-off in efficiency has played a part in the Jazz’s struggles out of the gate this season. Utah is 6-12, currently residing in 12th place in the Western Conference. They are only 2.5 games better than the last-place San Antonio Spurs, who are experimenting without a point guard in their starting lineup.

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